ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of April 18, 2005
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Bose, Cassidy, Hartenhoff, House, Johnson, Legg, Levin, Munroe, Payvar, Prawitz, Russo, Schoenbachler, Seaver, Waas, Wholeben, Williams
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost
Legg called the meeting to order at 3:05 p.m. He announced that Parviz Payvar received a Presidential Teacher Professorship award, and the APC congratulated Payvar. Legg thanked the APC for their participation in the program review process and the APC discussions on important matters. Legg added that the reviews of programs are grueling and take a great deal of time, and we appreciate your input.
It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of March 7, 2005, and the motion passed unanimously.
Legg stated that the targets for the mission-specific indicators are the next item on the agenda. Cassidy said that the Council of Deans, the UAP, and the Provost’s staff were consulted on the targets recommended for these indicators. This item is being brought to the APC as the university-level committee that addresses these types of issues, and the APC should discuss the targets for the indicators and vote on whether they can endorse them. The targets are based on past performance parameters and performance ranges were set around these targets. The mission-special indicators are indicators that NIU selected, and this information will be reported to the IBHE via the Performance Report, which will be submitted to the IBHE in September.
Levin asked if the goal that 40 percent of the total number of students who self-report disabilities will graduate annually is too high. Legg responded that students with disabilities have a higher graduation rate than non-disabled students. House said that overall the graduation rate for this group is 51 percent. Williams asked if this was the rate of graduation as opposed to the graduation rate per year. House replied that NIU has a rolling enrollment and this goal is stated sufficiently. Payvar moved to endorse the targets for the indicators, and Russo seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Legg noted that the follow-up reports are the next agenda item. Programs/offices were asked to report on aspect(s) of the program reviews that needed clarification or expansion.
Cassidy said that the Ed.D. in Adult Continuing Education was asked to report on program costs, enrollments, and the results of the special external reviews of dissertations. This program is the only program in the state, so it is the state average. There was some concern about the actual costs of the program, which were higher than the college costs for doctoral programs at the time of the program review. In 2000 the costs were $342.02, the costs decreased in 2001 and 2002, and increased significantly in 2003. The program has generated more credit hours, but its costs have increased. There have been changes in dissertation enrollment policies. The APC might want to continue to look at costs. House added that the increase in costs is a combination of who is teaching what particular course and the number of dissertation hours. Seaver asked if the department was filling out the Faculty Activity Reports in a different way; the chair in this department is new. House said that he and the chair discussed monitoring program costs. Cassidy noted that the second area of concern was the large number of students enrolled in the program. Program enrollment has increased over the last several years. The department says that their program is solid and strong, but there continues to be a concern about the faculty/student ratio, particularly with dissertation loads. We might need to talk with the program about strategies to monitor enrollment. Levin said that in the report the program talked about raising the minimum cap in classes to 20 students and asked if this was high. Bose responded that this is very high, but we don’t know what the maximum would be. Seaver asked what the cap was in clinical psychology. Waas replied that the minimum in practicum courses was 5 to 10 students; 20 students seems unusual. Legg said that this should be checked out. Bose asked if there was any information from other states about the costs of similar programs. Cassidy replied that during the last review this program was more than 100 percent over the college Graduate II costs. Since this is the only doctoral program in adult continuing education in the state, the statewide average is determined only by this program. House added that the department did hire two additional full-time faculty members.
Cassidy stated that the third area of concern in this program is related to the results of the external reviews of dissertations at the time of the full program review. The Graduate School worked with the department and did a special review of dissertations. We also have the dean’s designates information. The overall average was above the mean, and, for the most part, there were no substantive areas of concern raised in this external review of the dissertations. Legg said that he would welcome a motion to accept the report, but that we need qualifiers for more information. Costs and enrollments should be monitored. The follow-up can come to the committee or it can be between Institutional Research and the Provost’s Office. Payvar made a motion to accept the report, but we want additional information. The motion passed unanimously.
Cassidy said that the department also has a research/service unit called the Office of Human Resource Development and Workforce Preparation. The office was asked to report on the plan to make it a viable entity or dissolve the office. The concerns about the office were that it was a one person office and did not function as a university office. The report outlines what the plans are for the office’s outcomes and achievements. The report does talk about forming an advisory committee and connections with graduate students. We can accept this report, we can ask for another follow-up report, or we can indicate that the report is not accepted. Legg asked for a motion. Cassidy noted that this still seems to be a one person office. Levin stated that if this office is going to continue to exist, it needs to be integrated within NIU’s operations. There are many places it would fit in with other places in the university. These issues need to be addressed. Legg said it was a good idea to look at restructuring, but it is not the APC’s place to do this for them. Seaver asked if the funding was general revenue or grant money. Cassidy replied that the office is not funded at all by the college or department and there is no physical space allocated to the office. Bose said that in the past, the office has generated a considerable amount of money. Cassidy responded that in previous years the office has brought in external funding, but this has not been the case in recent years. Williams asked if there had been a discussion with the dean about how strongly it supports this unit. Cassidy replied that when we conducted the review, there were no objections about having this follow-up report. Williams asked if there were other institutes on campus that were one-person operations. Cassidy responded that there was a similar office in the college, and the college closed it prior to the program review. Wholeben moved to accept the report, but ask for a follow-up report in one year and see what progress has been made. Williams seconded this motion. Legg said we would add that the chance of survival is very poor. Waas said that this sounds like we are agreeing with the targets that are set, and I am not sure that these are good targets for an office. Cassidy stated that the report did not provide evidence that it should continue. Levin added that even though money is not allocated to this unit, there are resource issues. Levin made a motion that the APC should not accept the follow-up report, but say that we would be willing to look at a proposal for a similar program that is more integrated with NIU’s educational mission. Legg asked for a vote on the first motion; the motion did not pass. Schoenbachler seconded Levin’s motion. A vote was taken on Levin’s motion, and the motion passed unanimously.
Cassidy turned to the review of the M.S. in Philosophy follow-up report. The program was asked to submit a report on restating the program objectives to measurable student learning outcomes and the alignment of the assessment plan with these outcomes. Schoenbachler asked if this report had been reviewed by the UAP. Cassidy replied that the UAP has not reviewed this report because this issue came up at APC. These are the newly stated learning outcomes and a plan for how they will gather evidence. Levin said that there is good information in the report, but relying entirely on essays if too limiting because this is not every student’s strength. Cassidy added that under item two the program talks about using surveys, from both current students and alumni. Waas made a motion to accept the report and refer it on to the UAP to address the details of the assessment plan. Prawitz seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
The Office of Health Promotion follow-up report is the next item on the agenda. Cassidy informed the APC that the office was originally created and housed in the College of Education. When this office, along with the B.S.Ed. in Health Education, was reviewed, duplication with the program in community health in the College of Health and Human Sciences was found. The office and program were transferred from the College of Education to the College of Health and Human Sciences. Legg noted that this is an example of the spin off of reviews that council members might not always be aware of. Cassidy added that what has been explained in this report is that the office has a new director who is working closely with the dean on developing the plans for the office. Levine moved that we accept this report, but ask for a follow-up on the progress that the office has made in two years. Russo seconded the motion. Seaver asked if the office was waiting for the assessment coordinator to be hired prior to their developing outcomes and if they referring to more general assessments than the ones already in place. Cassidy responded that she thought they are trying to do this more generally. Seaver said it would be nice to have outcomes when it comes back to the group in two years. Williams said is it appropriate to say that they go forward with assessment. The motion was approved.
Legg stated that at the last APC meeting there was some discussion about evaluating how the APC fulfills its responsibilities. Cassidy added that based on the information in the minutes of the last meeting, changes were made and are shown in the right hand column of the Review of Council Responsibilities document. This draft was sent electronically so APC members could review and offer suggestions for changes prior to this meeting. No other suggestions were made. This is what we bring to the APC to have a motion to modify the definition of the responsibilities of the APC. Schoenbachler made a motion to accept, and Williams seconded the motion. Legg announced that the motion passed unanimously, and that the recommendations for changes will be forwarded to the University Council for approval.
Cassidy noted that at the last APC meeting there was a brief discussion about changes that could be made in the program review guidelines. No specific revisions were mentioned, but we wanted to make sure that nothing had come to mind regarding further changes in the guidelines. Schoenbachler said there was some discussion about collaborating the review with accreditation. This would be beneficial for the College of Business. Cassidy replied that we could try to do this, but we have to report on an eight-year cycle and it doesn’t always coincide with accreditation cycles. Payvar said that factors are not the same for program review as they are for accreditation. Schoenbachler said a lot of it is the same. Williams asked if it is the same unit of analysis. Schoenbachler replied that there are some differences. Prawitz asked why programs are reviewed every eight years, but only report on five years of data. Cassidy responded that this is a matter of logistics, and it makes the reviews more manageable. Information out of the five year review period can be discussed in the review, but five years of trends is generally sufficient.
Seaver asked if we should start asking programs about retention. The programs could talk about how the program is doing as it relates through the entire program. Cassidy said that information about the kinds of activities that make students successful is talked about in the review. Seaver added the reviews should include information about how successful the students are. There are issues of time to degree, and programs could talk about how many graduates they have produced, including how long it takes to get through the degree for both undergraduate and graduate students. Cassidy noted that we have a similar set of questions when we ask about recruitment; we can add the questions about retention and degree completion. Schoenbachler said that at the undergraduate level students may be familiar with one major, and then they take a class and they realize that they don’t want to be in this major anymore. This is different than a graduate program. House added that this varies remarkably by discipline. Seaver said that having programs aware of this would be good. Cassidy added that it helps raise awareness that retention is everybody’s issue.
Legg turned to the budget priorities item on the agenda. Every year we are asked to submit budget priority requests to the IBHE, but our requests have not been funded for several years. The priority now is more money for tenure-track lines. Cassidy added that the FY2006 Programmatic Budget Requests is the item that was submitted to the IBHE. This item is approved by the Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Personnel Committee and the full Board of Trustees prior to its submission to the IBHE. These items are in priority order. We would like your input on priorities or other recommendations for other requests that should be included. A brief discussion followed, but no new suggestions for priority requests were identified.
Legg informed the APC of a plan to try to address issues of faculty retention and diversity. This plan was approved by the president and presented to the deans, and the project has just been implemented. For each position with a salary of $60,000 or more (including faculty and staff), we are going to retain 10 percent of the salary in the Office of the Provost. The president is going to match our amount for the first year. We should get 2-4 new positions a year, which will allow us to start rebuilding our faculty ranks. Any increase in faculty at this stage would be significant. There will be a shift to hiring more faculty at the assistant professor rank. The positions will be distributed based on need and where there are opportunities to sustain excellence, but most will be used for new faculty positions. Payvar asked Legg how decisions will be made on where the new lines will be allocated. Legg responded that he has people in his office that can give insights about where enrollments have impacted departments and programs. Prawitz asked if any resources will go toward retention of faculty. Legg replied that it could, but we are going to focus on new faculty positions as a priority.
Cassidy turned to the enrollment trends item. There were two reports distributed with the APC agenda: one report is from Institutional Research and the other report is the Report of 2004 Withdrawing/Non-Returning Students Survey, which has a replacement page 4 (distributed at the meeting). House said that Bose brought this issue up at the last meeting and wanted an overview on enrollment and where NIU is headed. There are some remarkable changes coming. Through the mid 80s we were roughly around 18,000 undergraduate students and then we declined to a low of 15,000. We held our own against the enrollment decline for awhile. We have been staying in the 24,000 to 25,000 region lately. Women account of 54 percent of our enrollment, and men account for 46 percent; this has been a trend for a long time. I would like to give you some insight into where we are going. Beiling Ziao, who compiled this report, is known as an expert in projections. The report highlights fluctuations in high school seniors. From 1981-1991 the number of graduating high school seniors dropped almost 25 percent, and this eventually had to have an impact. Now we are on an upswing. Our region accounts for 72 percent of the high school seniors. Our prospective students will be minority students, and the projection is that majority students will drop 10 percent. As we look at these numbers, we look at recruitment and campus climate issues. A real key is that the diversity of our undergraduate population is only going to increase. These are national trends as well, and they are happening quickly. The proportion of students coming from single parent homes is also increasing. Bose said that many institutions are targeting recruitment in special areas. House replied that 85 percent of our freshmen students come from six counties. Seaver added that we are tracking our visits to high schools with specific populations. House said that we face recruitment challenges: majority students say NIU is too close to home while minority students say it is too far from home.
Bose said that Greg Waas is chair of the subcommittee of the Graduate Council that has been looking at dissertation issues and he can address this agenda item. Waas said that students’ progress on dissertations relates to issues that were brought up to the Graduate Council from meetings that Sue Willis has had with graduate directors. There is some concern about enrollment in dissertation hours being continuous. The committee discussed this and talked about the rational being that we want students to make progress, and how students are spending time and resources should be documented in terms of credit hours. If the requirement of continuous registration in dissertation hours was removed, during the summer there would be a 14 percent decrease in credit hours. Our graduate programs would look small and more expensive. The current requirements make sense. Bose said that the Graduate Council also discussed progress toward completion and how many students finish comprehensive exams but do not finish the dissertation. How do we keep tract of these students and how do we advise them? After eights years, students must redo their coursework unless the department makes a specific request that this is not required. We want to make students get the message that they need to finish the program in eight years. Jon Carahan has a good set up that tracts students, and we took advantage of this format and circulated it to all departments. We asked the departments to come up with something similar. We may want to look at a proposal that if the students are beyond six years, they may get three tuition waiver hours to finish the degree. I need to go to the Graduate Council with this idea. There is a real issue in the College of Education where one advisor has 20+ students. The problems in the sciences and social sciences are not really that big, but the humanities programs have some problems. Cassidy said there has not been any institutional picture of what is happening in NIU doctoral programs as far as enrollment. Was this something that the Graduate School was undertaking, or is it appropriate that the Graduate School collect this information? Bose replied that having the Graduate Council collect this information and coming back to the APC to report it would be appropriate. Cassidy noted that policies about minimum enrollment might be looked at. Bose replied that the Graduate Council would need to look at enrollment by department before we look at policies. The three hour requirement seems to be more standard. House added that this might vary by discipline. Bose stated that international students have to have nine hours, but they can enroll for three hours in the summer and be considered full time. Bose stated that a department-by-department survey would be done and brought to the Graduate Council to make a university policy. We may have to make some exceptions to the policy, and we will also look into tuition incentives.
The meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck